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     New Delhi, November 24, 2023: India is closely monitoring outbreak of H9N2 or Avian influenza virus and clusters of respiratory illness in children in China, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare sources said here today.

There is low risk to India from both the avian influenza case reported from China as well as the clusters of respiratory illness, it said and added India is prepared for any kind of exigency that may emerge from the current situation.

     Some media reports have indicated clustering of cases of respiratory illness in children in northern China for which WHO has also issued a statement. Based on the currently available information, an increase in incidence of respiratory diseases in China has been reported in the last few weeks. The usual causes of respiratory illness in children have been implicated and there has been no identification of an unusual pathogen or any unexpected clinical manifestations, the sources said.

     A meeting was recently held under the Chairmanship of DGHS to discuss the preparedness measures against human cases of Avian Influenza in the country against the backdrop of a human case of H9N2 (Avian influenza virus) in October 2023 in China that was reported to WHO.

     The overall risk assessment by WHO indicates a low probability of human to human spread and low case fatality rate among human cases of H9N2 reported to WHO so far, the Union Health Ministry said.

     However, the need for strengthening surveillance among human, animal husbandry and wild life sectors and improving coordination was recognised, it added. 

     India is prepared for any kind of public health exigency. India is embarking on a One Health approach to adopt a holistic and integrated roadmap towards addressing such public health issues, the Ministry said.

     There has also been a significant strengthening of health infrastructure especially since the COVID pandemic. PM-Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission (PM-ABHIM) was launched by the Prime Minister which is developing capacities of health systems and institutions across the continuum of care at all levels, primary, secondary and tertiary, to prepare health systems in responding effectively to the current and future pandemics /disasters.

     In addition, India’s surveillance and detection networks under Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) have rich experience of dealing with challenging health situations during the COVID-19 pandemic, they said.

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